The race for first place in the MLS Eastern Conference is tight, and the Philadelphia Union (12-7, 45 points) made sure it remained on top with a 2-1 win over the visiting Houston Dynamo (9-12, 30 points) Sunday night.
The Union have won three of their last four games.
Union coach Jim Curtin was not pleased with how his team started, calling it one of the worst wins of the season.
“Our roster and our talent level is too good for a performance like tonight,” Curtin said. “There’s a lot we need to work on.”
Consistency is what Curtin will be looking for heading into the last eight games of the regular season.
“If we want to be mentioned in elite teams in this league, a performance like tonight is nowhere near good enough,” Curtin said. “We weren’t sharp enough on the ball, seemed a bit sluggish. The first half was one of our worst halves.”
The Union took the lead at the 78th minute. Jack Elliott initially hit the crossbar and finished the play himself with an easy header to set the cannon off at Talen Energy Stadium.
Elliott didn’t even expect to get the go-ahead goal in the second half.
“I was just waiting to see what would happen like everyone else, whether it was going to bounce and go over so I just stayed," Elliott said. "Luckily it fell in the right place. I was extremely pleased with it.”
A Union goal in the 59th minute was called back after Kacper Przybylko was guilty of being offsides.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead in the 18th minute, the goal coming off a slow rolling ball that Przybylko put through the legs of Houston goalkeeper Joe Willis. Houston’s Christian Ramirez scored in the 42nd minute to tie the match.
After Przybylko scored the first goal, he ran to the bench and held up a shirt that said, “O Captain, My Captain,” in support of Union midfielder and team captain Alejandro Bedoya.
During last week’s D.C. United game, Bedoya celebrated his goal by challenging Congress to “do something” about gun laws following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.
“It was also a surprise for Ale, because he did a great job with the statement,” Przybylko said. “I support him, the whole team supports him.”
In another MLS match, Atlanta United defeated visiting New York FC, 2-1, and sits in second in the MLS East with 42 points.